Smith closes another strong bullpen performance

May 4th, 2016

MILWAUKEE -- Joe Smith, acting as the Angels' closer while Huston Street recovers from a strained oblique, had a hunch he would be needed for multiple innings in Wednesday's series finale from Miller Park. He told C.J. Cron around the third inning that he wouldn't be surprised if he were needed for a six-out save.

"You just look around and you realize how much guys have pitched this trip," Smith said, moments after locking down the Angels' 7-3 win over the Brewers with the six-out save he foresaw. "They've stepped up and they've pitched really well."

The Angels have gone seven consecutive days without their starting pitcher completing six innings, a troubling sign for a team that has seen its rotation depth evaporate over the last few weeks.

In the midst of all that, though, the bullpen has stepped up, even in the absence of its most accomplished reliever.

The bullpen has combined to post a 1.65 ERA over the last 14 games, giving up just nine runs on 32 hits in 49 innings, a stretch in which the relievers have walked 13 and struck out 38. Hector Santiago lasted only 5 1/3 innings on Wednesday -- giving up three runs on eight hits and four walks -- but Cam Bedrosian, Fernando Salas and Smith held the Brewers to one hit over the last 3 2/3 innings.

Smith notched the Angels' first six-out save since Ernesto Frieri in September 2013.

"I had some rest this road trip, and the rest of the bullpen did a lot of work," Smith said. "You're going to have trips like that. The injuries we've had hasn't helped, but they've done a great job this road trip of picking up a lot of innings. Sometimes no matter what role you're in, you just have to step up and do it."

Mike Morin is showing command of three pitches -- a fastball, changeup and slider -- and has thrown nine consecutive scoreless outings, dropping his ERA to 2.38.

Jose Alvarez has seven consecutive scoreless innings, the last of which saw him escape a first-and-third, none-out jam in Tuesday's eighth inning. His ERA is down to 3.77. Salas is working on 8 1/3 consecutive scoreless innings to lower his ERA to 2.40.

And Bedrosian, perhaps the only reliever who brings a legitimate swing-and-miss component to the bullpen, has struck out six of the last eight hitters he has faced.

"It looks like he finally isn't putting so much pressure on himself," Smith said of Bedrosian. "It sounds silly, but that's Cam's everyday stuff that we've seen the last two outings. If he just throws that, good things are going to keep happening. We need a guy like that to step up."